The House of Representatives approved amendments made by the Senate to a bill expanding the state Election Code on a 42-25 vote Monday. This is the final step for the bill before it goes to the governor’s desk. HB 4 would expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. One of the Senate amendments to the bill is a definition of incarceration. “‘Correctional facility’ means a jail, prison or other detention facility that is used for the confinement of an adult, whether operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state or a private contractor on behalf of the state or a political subdivision of the state,” the bill states.
The House floor approved a bill on a 62-1 vote to make it a fourth degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. The bill would expand the state’s election code to include the penalties. There was no debate on the bill. SB 43 passed the Senate unanimously. More: Bill prohibiting intimidation of election officials moves to House floor
“SB 43 amends the election code to make intimidation of an election official a felony.
Legislation that aims to update the state’s Election Code passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote on Saturday. SB 180 requests an update the state’s Election Code including specifying when the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, can be used for election information, allowing electronic nominating petition signatures, creating an election security program, requiring training for election challengers and watchers, revising requirements for the impoundment of ballots, audits, voting machine rechecks and recounts, revising election-related crimes and authorizing taxpayer information to be revealed to the secretary of state for purposes of maintaining voter registration records. More: Election code update passes Senate
The bill was discussed but not voted on during a Friday afternoon HJC meeting with discussion continuing during the Saturday, March 11 meeting. “These changes are absolutely necessary for the conduct of elections,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said. The bill is similar to the Voting Rights Act, HB 4, which is a policy bill while SB 180 is a technical bill, Toulouse Oliver said.
A bill that makes intimidating election officials a felony passed in the House Judiciary Committee on a 10-0 vote. SB 43 would expand the state Election Code’s scope by making it a fourth-degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. “Under current law, if someone is a voter or a watcher or a challenger, and someone seeks to intimidate them, tries to induce fear using threatened use of force, violence, infliction of harm or loss or any form of economic retaliation for the purpose of impeding their free elective franchise or the impartial administration of the electric code that is a fourth degree felony,” bill sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said. “What this bill does is it extends those same protections to the people who are actually running our elections: the Secretary of State’s office, their employees and agents, or county clerks, or municipal clerks and their employees and agents.”
More: Bill making intimidation of election officials a felony moves to Senate floor
The bill’s origin comes from a wave of threats of violence against election workers, including threats to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 16.
New Mexico has the only non-salaried legislature in the U.S. A piece of legislation seeks to change that. HJR 8 would allow New Mexico voters to determine if they want to amend the state constitution to allow legislators to earn a salary set by a citizens’ commission. It passed as amended on a 5-4 party-line vote in the Senate Rules Committee Friday. Proponents of the legislation said that making the legislature salaried could help diversify the institution because adding a salary could open up the option to run for state office to those who otherwise would not be financially comfortable doing so. “I think the public perception is that when we’re away from Santa Fe, after the 30 or 60 day-session, that our job stops,” committee vice chairman Leo Jaramillo, D-Española, said.
The House approved HB 399, which seeks to require counties with 35,000 or more people to expand their county commissions to five members, on Thursday by a vote of 40-28.
Only three counties would be affected by the bill should it pass: Otero, McKinley and Rio Arriba counties. “Thank you for the very strong-minded debate and the urgency that we all are coming to recognize,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Willie Madrid, D-Chaparral, said. “I have to say in closing, you know, when we talk about the statutes and listen to the discussion today, it was a start of the will of the people. They have to be a part of this.”
Commission districts must be equally distributed based on population alone. The county commissioner boards draw the new district maps, bill co-sponsor Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, said.
A bill that seeks to update the state’s Election Code and make it easier for New Mexicans to vote passed the Senate on a 27 to 14 party line vote after a lengthy debate. HB 4, the Voting Rights Act, would expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. “Our democracy, our sacred right to vote is under threat and this requires a strong community driven response. That’s why this bill is before this body today,” Sen. Katy Duhigg said. Duhigg, a Democrat from Albuquerque, described the bill, and focused on the Native American Voting Rights Act.
A bill aspiring to update the statute on procedures for filling legislative vacancies was unanimously approved in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday. HB 538 is sponsored by committee chairwoman D. Wonda Johnson, a Democrat from Albuquerque. The bill was presented by Rep. Janelle Anyononu, D-Albuquerque and state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, presented the bill. “This essentially codifies what is done 90 percent of the time. It does not apply to rural counties.
The House Judiciary Committee tabled legislation that sought to change legislative session lengths to 45 days each year on a 5-4 vote on Monday.
HJR 14 sought to let voters decide to change the legislative session to 45 days each year and would have removed the restriction on presenting non-budgetary bills in even-numbered years. Currently, the Legislature can only hear bills related to the budget or those place on the call by the governor in even-numbered years. The legislative session in odd-numbered years is 60 days long, while those in even-numbered years are 30 days long. HJR 14 is similar to HJR 2 which seeks to let voters decide if the legislative session should be extended to 60 days. Committee members argued that the bill is not feasible since the current legislative session is past its 45th calendar day and committees are still hearing bills for the first time.
A bill updating the state Election Code passed the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee Monday on a party line 6-3 vote. SB 180 requests an update the state’s Election Code including, but not limited to, specifying when the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, can be used in election-based disclosures, allowing electronic nominating petition signatures, creating an election security program, requiring training for election challengers and watchers, revising requirements for the impoundment of ballots, audits, voting machine rechecks and recounts, revising election-related crimes and authorizing taxpayer information to be revealed to the secretary of state for purposes of maintaining voter registration records. More: Election code update passes Senate
“All the changes that are in this bill (are based on) actual experiences of machine administrators and a lot of them have already been tested because a lot of this is stuff that was adopted temporarily during the 2020s,” bill sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said.
The bill previously passed the Senate on a 23-13 vote. It now heads to the House Judiciary Committee.